Three staple items for a smart-casual fall/ winter wardrobe
Updated: Dec 12, 2021
One of the most predominant sustainable fashion ideals is to own more for less, thus resulting in its strong emphasis on the versatility of each and every single piece of garment, accessory, and footwear.
While there are no major fallacies that are associated with this logic, a considerable amount of its advocates often fall short in assuming everyone shares the same style, if not campaign for the white T-shirt and blue denim trousers combination, due to its presumed 'timelessness'.
Needless to say, not only is classifying what can be timeless a difficult feat — say whether the top hat and tailcoat wearing average Joe of the 1920s could have expected the average Joe to be wearing leather jackets for every occasion in half a century's time — but also what could be considered as timeless varies from one person to another.
Of course, we haven't even taken into consideration the season and the part of the world the wearer is based.
Hence, the best way to interpret and practice this vision, in my humble opinion, is for the wearer to pick a style which he/ she is likely to stick with for many years to come. (How broadly the 'style' should be framed would be an interesting topic to come back to another time.)
In today's write-up, I have chosen three pieces from my own wardrobe — one sports coat, one pair of odd trousers, and one pair of shoes — as contenders of what I would personally call the staple items of a smart-casual #menswear wardrobe.
Hopefully, this could benefit the literature by broadening its scope. Enjoy.
No mysteries and surprises. As you could have guessed already, the three pieces are a brown houndstooth jacket, a pair of olive-grey trousers, and a pair of chestnut brown grain leather Norwegian bluchers.
Each of these pieces could be worn together, as illustrated in the pictures above and below, or with many other versatile pieces, allowing for limitless combinations.
In the following, I will be discussing each piece one by one on why they could be considered as staple items, starting with the sports coat.
The brown houndstooth SC
I haven't ventured into the world of patterns for suiting or jacketing (not including pinstripes and chalk-stripes) until quite recently. For a long period of time, I found it to add more complications to my wardrobe than required.
Some ties, shirts, or scarves wouldn't pair well with the piece since they have patterns of a similar scale. And for some jackets that have multiple colors throughout the pattern (think of certain tweeds), the variety of pieces that the SC could match with would be reduced as well. (There are other reasons as well, but that is for another time.)
Yet, tasteful patterns would always have their place in jacketing as they symbolize a lost language of sophistication, hardly to be seen in this day and age. Just think of Gianni Agnelli's famous beige glen-check sports coat.
Hence, after my countless revisits of vintage illustrations, mesmerizing over how the figurines are meticulously captured, not to mention how effortless yet refined they look in one of these pieces, I eventually got my head over this mentality gap.
Of course, not all patterns are equal, and some, namely the houndstooth and the glen-check, are more versatile than the others. Here, I have picked houndstooth, and a brown one with a cream base specifically, for various reasons.
Firstly, among all patterns for jacketing, houndstooth, to me, is always the most subdued pattern. It doesn't scream for attention, unlike some of the bolder glen-checks, let alone some rather fashion-forward windowpanes. (Again, this is just my personal preference.)
It should also be added that the size of the patterns plays a role here. Compared to most other patterns which their appearance could differ significantly based on the scale, houndstooth pieces seem to all look the same. What differs them from one another, really, is the level of contrast between the base and the 'tooth' itself.
Yet, this 'flaw' may very well be houndstooth's greatest strength — you can easily pair the sports coat with a great variety of shirts and accessories, without clashing in terms of the scale of patterns. (Think of your solid grenadine or stripe ties.)
Secondly, in terms of color, chocolate brown, to me, is the best of both worlds between formal and relaxed attire. It shares the sobriety found in navy and grey when it comes to city attire, yet retains the pallette of the country earth tones.
The base color matters as well. I find colors along the lines of orange and red tends to add some more country-looking appearance than I personally prefer. Neutral colors, to me, look neater.
Hence, occasion-wise, you can easily find yourself wearing this piece with a pair of charcoal flannel trousers to certain offices, or for Zoom meetings. Meanwhile, during the weekend, you can also pair the sports coat with more relaxed pieces, such as the grayish-olive covert trousers I am wearing in the photos or with forest green corduroy trousers.
And you wouldn't look out of place for both occasions.
Oh, and about the jacket itself. I acquired this The Armoury by Ring Jacket new-old-stock sports coat through Drop93. While it has a different silhouette than what I would usually wear, I do think the cut works quite well with patterns like such.
As for the cloth, the SC is made up of Loro Piana's Pecora Nera, a breed of dark-colored Merino sheep that produces fibers that are renowned for their softness, durability, and li